First Among Equals


Pro-choice poster in Dublin; Dr Thomas Finegan

We should hold views on the basis that they are true. Our views, accordingly, should be arrived at by thinking, and not by political instinct, or by emotion, or by adopting the prevailing opinion among our social group in order to make interaction and advancement easier.

The forthcoming referendum hinges on the question of whether there is a right to abortion. In popular, political discourse the right to abortion is usually defended by appeal to bodily integrity, or autonomy, or equality, or some combination of these.

However, most ethicists (moral philosophers) are in agreement that appeal to these goods isn’t sufficient to justify a right to abortion. Why? To justify a right to abortion it also needs to be shown that the unborn don’t have the same basic moral worth as born individuals.

This makes sense. While protecting one’s bodily integrity is important, it doesn’t justify deliberately harming an innocent person who poses no real risk to one’s bodily well-being.

Likewise, autonomy is important, but its exercise shouldn’t be used to harm others. And similarly as regards equality: the right to equal treatment doesn’t support acts that harm others who are fundamentally equal in basic moral worth to ourselves.

So in order to support a right to abortion it must also be shown that the unborn are not like us in moral worth. If they are fundamentally equal to us in basic moral worth they, too, have human dignity and a right to life, meaning that abortion cannot be a right.

Ultimately, then, the forthcoming referendum hinges on the question of whether or not it is true that the unborn are fundamentally equal to us in moral worth.

This aligns with the legal question at hand. The referendum proposal is this: to completely delete – not just limit or qualify – the right to life of the unborn from the Constitution (and thus to comprehensively deny that they are fundamentally equal to us). It is this sort of constitutional amendment that is required to permit the legislative proposal put forward by Minister Simon Harris.

So, is it true that the unborn are fundamentally unequal to us in basic moral worth?

Answering this requires thought, not slogans. In order to demonstrate that the unborn aren’t owed basic moral respect a particular standard for basic moral worth must be cited which the unborn fail to satisfy (and which we do satisfy!).

No contemporary moral philosopher disputes that the unborn being is a human being. This is a scientific question with a straightforward scientific answer. The unborn is an actual human being, not a potential human being: an unborn entity cannot grow as a member of its species unless it actually is a member of its species. And a biological entity either is or isn’t an actual member of a particular species.

The unborn being is clearly an individual being, too. While it may be reliant on its mother the unborn being is functionally, biologically and genetically distinct from her. (Those who deny this are committed to viewing abortion as self-harm.) So being an individual human being is not a standard that excludes the unborn.

[Because the unborn is a very young human being it’s entirely appropriate to describe him/her as an unborn “child”. “Foetus” is the Latin term for “young” or “offspring”, and so etymologically it means roughly the same thing as “child”. I use “child” from now on.)

Being located outside the womb is a poor standard too since location by itself hardly seems morally relevant for basic moral worth. It would also imply, absurdly, that a partially delivered child is “partially” our equal and that partial-birth abortions are “partially” wrong.

Furthermore, it would entail that a prematurely delivered child at 22 weeks has a substantially greater moral status than a much more developed child still in the womb at 39 weeks, just because the latter child happens to be located inside the womb.

Nor is being fully independent a convincing standard because we are all dependent on others to some extent (especially when young, sick, economically impoverished, and elderly).

None of these standards are plausible. Instead, the standard that pro-choice moral philosophers have settled on to exclude the unborn child from fundamental equality is the (immediate) ability to experience self-consciousness or to exercise rationality.

This standard excludes unborn children: they seem to lack the (immediate) capacity for self-consciousness or rationality.

However, it has been realised that this standard also excludes other human beings from fundamental equality: newborn children and young infants, those in a so-called “persistent vegetative state”, adults with profound intellectual disability, and those with severe, late stage dementia.

Among the world’s leading pro-choice philosophers who have come to this general conclusion are Jeff McMahan (Oxford University), Michael Tooley (University of Colorado), Peter Singer (Princeton University) and John Harris (University of Manchester). They conclude that since abortion is permissible then so too, in principle, is infanticide and other killings society regards as seriously wrong.

The standard they use to exclude unborn children also implies that the more self-conscious or rational one is the more moral worth one has. Ultimately, since levels of self-consciousness and rationality differ even among “normal” humans, this means that no one is fundamentally equal. In other words, fundamental equality is a fiction on the most plausible premise used to justify a right to abortion.

This destroys the basis for thinking that human equality is true. It also points to the difficulty of thinking that human moral worth can increase from one developmental point to another (e.g. during the course of fetal development).

The only credible way to justify the idea of fundamental equality is to appeal to our common human nature: it is the only reality we share equally in common.

This is what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights does. It begins by referencing “all members of the human family” and “human beings”. Article 2 declares that “everyone” is entitled to “human” rights “without distinction of any kind”. Article 6 declares that “everyone” is to be counted as a person. Article 23 references “human” dignity.

Logically, this means that unborn children are fundamentally equal in moral worth to human beings who have passed the fetal stage of their development. Most of the time most of us recognise this truth.

We generally speak of the “baby” in the womb. If pioneering in utero surgery is being reported reference is made to the “children” it will benefit. We know that miscarriages are a tragedy not just for the parents but for the little person whose life had only just begun. If a third party attacks a baby in the womb we seek justice, not just on behalf of the mother but also on behalf of the defenceless child who was injure

Contemporary intuitions shift somewhat when it comes to the issue of abortion, however. But these intuitions run counter to the truth of fundamental human equality which both liberalism and socialism began by defending. And so these intuitions should be revised.

Easier said than done, of course. But why? I think there are a number of explanations for why so many of us are so reluctant to recognise abortion as a serious wrong against unborn members of the human family (non-exhaustive list below).

Some of these explanations are more understandable than others, but none of them gets close to acting as a premise which could begin to deny that unborn children are fundamentally equal in basic moral worth to other human beings and thus deserve basic respect.

Generalisations are unavoidable:

We can relate much easier to people who are at roughly the same developmental stage as us, and so when it comes to unwanted pregnancies we are naturally drawn towards the interests of the pregnant mother over those of her baby

Unborn persons are almost totally invisible to us in everyday life (which is why images of unborn children can inspire or shock, depending on the context)

We tend to associate opposition to abortion with people, political movements, and religious groups we don’t like (some of us subconsciously transfer our attitudes to them onto unborn children, which is why provocatively mocking or dehumanising unborn children is not uncommon)

We tend to think that opposing abortion logically entails condemning women who have had abortions (a clear non-sequitur, even leaving aside how men’s and wider society’s failures are massively, massively responsible for the phenomenon of abortion)

We (I think this applies more so to men) tend to view unplanned children as an almost cosmic injustice against our freedom and aspirations

We comfortably and passively assume that abortion is an inevitable element of society, just like prostitution and excessive chemical use (and poverty and homelessness?)

Historically most cases of dehumanising a category of human beings have occurred to further the interests of an already powerful group, whereas the dehumanisation inherent in the push for abortion rights is partly an attempt to further the interests of an already marginalised group (women). For those interested in justice the dehumanisation is thus harder to see

None of the above begins to deny that the unborn child is a vulnerable “other” who is marginalised and dehumanised by unjust social, economic, and political structures, similar to how women, black people, and others have and continue to be marginalised.

If this is so then it has implications for how we vote in the referendum. The referendum simply asks us to vote to delete the unborn child’s right to life, entirely, without qualification, and for all stages of pregnancy.

The referendum proposal is based on the following claim: that unborn children are emphatically not our fundamental equals in moral worth, that, in reality, they have no significant moral worth.

Leaving aside political instinct, emotion, and the consensus view among your social group, ask yourself: is this claim true? Can it be judged true without judging vulnerable humans besides the unborn as lacking in moral worth?

One final remark. We can’t be relativists about these questions. In other words, we can’t think that contradictory answers are equally valid. Relativism as an intellectual position is blatantly incoherent.

Furthermore, in order to be a consistent relativist one would need to be relativist about everyone’s moral worth, not just the moral worth of unborn children.

Dr Thomas Finegan is lecturer in Theology at the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Mary Immaculate College in Thurles, County Tipperary.


247 thoughts on “First Among Equals

  1. Starina

    to me it’s not about moral worth.

    you want to talk about moral worth, let’s discuss how yank cops get away with killing a black person just because that person had a completely unrelated conviction.

    moral worth in relation to fetuses presupposes religious bent.

      1. SOQ

        The morality of telling a woman that she will be at death’s door before she will be treated you mean? That sort of morality?

    1. rotide

      Starina, you really are as bad as David sometimes. The cop stuff is completely unrelated whataboutery and as for:
      “moral worth in relation to fetuses presupposes religious bent”

      So, If i were to kick a pregnany woman in the stomach, you would need to be religious to be outraged?

          1. daniel mallon

            I like how your hypothetical completely ignores the possibility that if you kicked a pregnant woman we might be outraged at you kicking a woman. Says it all really.

      1. Rob_G

        +1, rotide

        I support the right to choose, but trying to draw some sort of link with police in America killing black people is beyond silly.

        1. Starina

          och i regret saying anything. i wasn’t combaring abortion, i was talking purely about the validity of his method of argument. just forget i said anything!

  2. Cian

    We tend to think that opposing abortion logically entails condemning women who have had abortions (a clear non-sequitur, even leaving aside how men’s and wider society’s failures are massively, massively responsible for the phenomenon of abortion)

    Really? men are massively, massively responsible for abortion

    1. Cian

      Saying that – Dr Thomas Finegan has a valid point. Those of us on the pro-abortion side should be able to answer the question (in his terms): “Are the unborn are fundamentally equal to us in basic moral worth” or possibly the slightly different question “At what stage does a foetus/child become equal to us in basic moral worth – i.e. achieve full human rights”.

      Irish law currently discriminates by age. All of these have an arbitrary age (usually on the anniversary of the birth) where-by the person attains additional rights. These are at (off the top of my head) 0, 13, 16, 17, 18, 22, 24, 25, 67 and I’m sure there are others.

      Are these laws moral?
      Why can a 17-and-364-day-old not legally buy a cigarette, but it is suddenly legal the next?

      1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

        I started to type an answer then started having an argument with myself in my head then got distracted.
        My critical faculties are shot to hell.

  3. TheRealJane

    I think it would be amazing to have the luxury of reflecting on the nature of life without reference to women. And then, having reached an entirely logical and philosophical conclusion, enforce laws that damage other people at no risk to myself at all while congratulating myself on my higher cognitive abilities.

    The issue missing from this is that women aren’t an abstraction you can ignore when developing a theory about the nature of bringing human life. Women are human beings and the idea that you are qualified to ignore that because it doesn’t fit the grand theory is why women are do routinely abused in this country.

    1. missred

      Damn right Jane. Whether from a so-called philosophical perspective or any other, you cannot discuss “the unborn” on its own terms like this. The foetus depends on the woman for survival and she routinely gets forgotten about. As for this article, well maybe I’m not very academic, but I find it full of navel-gazing rubbish designed to show off the writer’s debating skills and not much else.

        1. Daisy Chainsaw

          Particularly when it’s based on fairy stories and invisible, non existent deities.

    2. Paul

      So basically you can kill an entity who has the same rights as you if you’re the entity who’s biologically equipped to carry it?

      1. TheRealJane

        Well I don’t accept that women and foetuses have the same rights, in fact, I find it an outrage that we are expected to tolerate this as a constitutional reality in this country.

        Men, of course, exist in a separate sphere where their status is not measured in this way.

          1. TheRealJane

            Not exactly, no. But I think it’s interesting that you find it acceptable that women’s lives are balanced against foetal lives in the Constitution, which suggests that women are of the same value as foetuses.

            I don’t think you’ve given a moment’s consideration as to how this coupling of women and children in an eternal battle for ownership and stewardship of women’s bodies with men as adjudicators who never have to argue that their life and health is important to be allowed to experience both on their own terms, appears to women.

    3. Sham Bob

      Hear hear. In any case, yer man’s angels dancing on the head of a pin excercise is based on a rake of supposedly ‘evidently true’ assumptions.

  4. Daisy Chainsaw

    Tell you what “Doctor”, let’s give your sperm equal worth to you. How does that grab your “morality”

    Honestly, BS, could you not get a real doctor?

        1. Sentient Won

          On the evidence of Broadsheet commentators Repealers have no understanding of science, biology, logic or morality.

          And yet they have a vote the same as everybody else.


          1. Brother Barnabas

            god-botherer decries others’ lack of understanding of science…


        2. Listrade

          Then my socks lying on my floor as a teenager were the greatest potential known to life.

  5. Inquistor

    never had I read such logical and well thought through drivel. You could almost write it as an equation. Reality for women is very rarely so cut and dried however.

    Absolutism is all very well. But its often absolute bull**** when applied to the real world.

  6. Sentient Won

    Fair play Broadsheet. There may be hope for you all yet.

    Look at all the Repealers heads exploding!


  7. KP

    “The forthcoming referendum hinges on the question of whether there is a right to abortion”

    No, it doesn’t. The forthcoming referendum asks whether we wish to remove a part of the constitution that equates the life of a woman with that of a fetus.

          1. Cian

            One issue in this whole debate is that certain words have multiple meanings. And different people use the words in different ways.

            “Child” can mean either (OED):
            1. A young human being below the age of puberty or below the legal age of majority.
            2. A son or daughter of any age.

            meaning #1 is a specific age group; #2 is a relationship.

            A foetus is related to the mother (a child – meaning #2);
            The word “foetus” is also a description for a development age-group; so is arguably is not the same as meaning #1 – or it is a sub-set of #1 and thus it is more accurate to say ‘foetus’ rather then ‘child’.

            But it is semantics, and people on both sides ‘misunderstand’ their opponent’s version of the meaning and twist what is being said.

            “human” and “life” and “alive” are other word with multiple meanings that get ‘misunderstood’.

          2. Sentient Won

            “human” and “life” and “alive” are other word[s] with multiple meanings that get ‘misunderstood’.

            No they don’t Cian.

            You only ‘misunderstand’ those words if you have malice in you heart.

      1. Braaap

        It doesn’t though, the Dr’s etymological arguments are weak, by all medical definitions a fetus=fetus.

      2. KP

        Whether or not “fetus = child”, the author has misrepresented the referendum to suit the argument that he wishes to make.

        1. Paul

          The fetuses we speak of are humans in the some of their earlier stages of development.

  8. Frill the 8th

    I’ve just searched up on this Moral Worth
    and am none the wiser
    and probably left more concussed than confused

    its all a load of oul’Kant tbh
    so I’m going ta make it easy
    don’t agree with abortion?
    don’t have one

    and mind your sperm lads
    no reckless ejaculations
    or the Bishop of Ossary will be saying yere committing an act of genocide

    1. Sentient Won

      Incoherent babble is incoherent.

      So mumble, mumble, mumble: Let’s kill babies!

      1. mildred st. meadowlark

        You’re getting dull now. All that self-righteous screaming you’ve been doing about Soros and abortionistas (lol) finally tired you out.

        Nap time for you darling.

  9. Barry the Hatchet

    “To justify a right to abortion it also needs to be shown that the unborn don’t have the same basic moral worth as born individuals.” This is simply not true and it is false to state that it is something that “most ethicists” are in agreement on.

    The “different moral worth” argument is certainly one you can use in order to demonstrate that abortion can be morally justified, but it is far from being the only argument by which to do so. For example, the right to life which “born humans” possess does not include the right to use another person’s body to sustain their life. No one is entitled to someone else’s kidney or to a pint of someone else’s blood, even if it is a relatively low-risk procedure and they will die without the donation. The right to bodily autonomy of those prospective donors take precedence over the right to life of the prospective donee. However, this does not mean that the donee does not have the same basic moral worth as the donor. Put simply, we can agree that a foetus has the same moral worth as a “born human”, while still permitting abortion in order to vindicate the right to bodily integrity of the pregnant woman.

    1. Tom

      But the right to abortion isn’t the right to remove the unborn child from reliance on one’s body, it is the right to intentionally end the life of the child. For example, Harris’ abortion legislation defines termination as “a medical procedure intended to end the life of the foetus”.

      If abortion rights were solely a matter of stopping children from relying on their mother’s body, and if proponents of abortion rights genuinely recognised the equal moral worth of unborn children, then there would seem to be good reason to reach a compromise by allowing extremely early deliveries but disallowing acts intended to take life. But that’s not what abortion rights focuses on – the focus is on not having a living child to care for.

      1. Starina

        extremely early delivery IS ending the life of the fetus. they can’t survive outside the womb that early.

      2. Barry the Hatchet

        I do not agree with you Tom, that the intention of abortion is to end the life of the foetus. The intention is to end the pregnancy. Before a certain point, the foetus is not viable outside the womb and so an inevitable consequence of the abortion is to end the life of the foetus. But this is not the aim.

        I take your point about the wording in the draft bill, but this is sloppy drafting in my view and is simply incorrect.

        1. Tom

          Your point is the best counter-point to the argument I’m trying to present Barry. If your point was true, though, surely a very significant number of pro-choice ethicists would argue that abortion is immoral from viability onwards. But this isn’t the case. And states that fully accept a right to abortion at the level of law tend to permit abortions past viability (e.g. England and Wales, U.S., Canada, etc.). Even among those actively advocating for abortion rights here in Ireland, the clear majority want abortion permissible past viability. So I do think an intention to end the life of the child is a central feature of the right to abortion. Harris’ draft wording captures this, as do actual legislative and judicial wordings elsewhere.

          1. Barry the Hatchet

            I don’t think it’s fair to say that the tendency is to permit abortion past viability. Most countries have gestational time limits after which abortion “on request” is not permitted. In most European countries this is a 12 week limit, which is actually far lower than the recognised threshold for viability. In the UK it’s 24 weeks, which is there or there abouts in terms of viability.

            In most of those countries, abortion is permitted after the initial limit only for fatal foetal abnormality (where the baby will not survive in any event) or in circumstances where there is a risk to the pregnant woman’s health and/or life, which creates a more complex situation and adds an additional layer of the woman’s right to life being engaged as well as her right to bodily integrity.

    2. Paul

      Everyone of us at some stage or another has enjoyed the use of another’s body to sustain us, why should we not extend this same courtesy to others?

      1. TheRealJane

        So whose body are you going to sustain, Paul? Or by “us” do you mean some other person or people which doesn’t include you?

        1. Paul

          No I mean us as in you and I, we have both used another’s body to sustain us at some stage.

          I don’t think it’s fair of you to opt out of extending that same courtesy to those following us just because me and others are not biologically equipped to. Us males do in general fulfill our part of the equation within the parameters of our biology as in we defend, provide for , support etc etc and I don’t think it’s fair for you to say “well seen as you can’t do my biological part of the equation there will be no equation at all’.

        2. Cian

          I assume he is talking about all our mothers – who sustained ‘us’ in their wombs.

          but the courtesy he is offering is not his own – it’s all other women (unless ‘Paul’ is a fertile woman)

          1. Paul

            It certainly is not my own, I am 100% wombless by birth.
            We all still enjoyed this courtesy though irrespective of whether not we all were able to return it so why should everyone else coming after us not enjoy it too?

          2. Cian

            hmm… can’t you see any the problem with that Paul?

            How would you feel if I were to offer *your* spare room to the homeless? I mean, our mother’s gave *us* beds when we were kids. And I don’t have a spare room – so I can’t.

          3. Daisy Chainsaw

            Can I send the IKA around to take your spare kidney to sustain another’s body? If you don’t, the person dies and you’re a murderer.

            How about we take a pint of blood without your consent every month so someone can enjoy being sustained by you?

      2. Sham Bob

        Oh yes, for example I currently have a retired gentleman growing on my shoulder, harmless old divil really. And a bishop pops by every thursday to use my body as he sees fit (he’s into shop-window-display-play). Least I can do.

      3. Barry the Hatchet

        But Paul, a courtesy is a very different thing to a requirement. It would, for instance, be a wonderful thing for you to donate a kidney to your mother to save her life. But it would be barbaric for the State to force you to make that donation whether you wanted to or not.

  10. rotide

    As someone who will be voting yes no matter what come the referendum, I’d like to say that this is a really good piece of writing. I also hope it doesn’t see the light of day anywhere else outside of broadsheet because apart from a few logical fallacies, it’s quite persuasive.

    What I like about it is that it asks some perfectly reasonable philospophical questions entirely stripping out the emotive aspects of the campaign.

    I don’t agree with the central point but there’s some interesting points and well done for avoiding all ‘killing babies/’trust’ women’ sides of the argument.

    1. Cian

      Yes, and no. Like a lot of the pro-life stuff – there is a grain of truth in it. But a lot of logical fallacies.

      There is an interesting moral question buried in his writing – At what stage does a foetus get full ‘human rights’? and even if the foetus has equal rights, as Barry the Hatchet mentions above: the right to life which “born humans” possess does not include the right to use another person’s body to sustain their life. No one is entitled to someone else’s kidney or to a pint of someone else’s blood

      It would be nice to discuss these central points – without all the distractions of at conception the single cell should have full human rights, to the cop-killing; and baby-murder comments above; [sigh]

      1. Paul

        Everyone on the planet has used another’s body to sustain them during this period, it’s one of the most universal rights in existence that we have all enjoyed.

        I’m not seeing any reason why anyone coming down the line should not enjoy the same right.

        1. TheRealJane

          There is no right to use another person’s body for any purpose without their consent.

          1. Paul

            Biological or actual consent? we have all enjoyed biological consent an therefor it follows that we should extend the same courtesy to others.

            Actual consent is different – some may have enjoyed it some may not, it’s not as universal as biological consent.

          2. TheRealJane

            Paul, I’m a mother. I have given actual consent for my child to grow in my body and use my bones and tissues to make their own. This is not a semantic parlour game. It’s not actually kind of you to extend the right to use someone’s body when it has no impact on you, apparently on the basis that someone consented to your use of their body.

        2. Listrade

          100% agree and I propose we vote no and establish internment camps for women who give birth to premature babies and have miscarriages and their egregious denial of this universal right.

          1. SOQ

            Because they are pregnant, kill women unnecessarily. That would be my favourite bit. Too many of them in the first place. Should never have been given them the vote. They’ll want equal pay next.

  11. KM

    I’ve listened to this argument before – it’s the black and white argument, it does not include the woman and the realities of bringing children up in this world.

    The world isn’t black and white, their is no perfect pregnancy, their is no perfect life balance. There is anencephaly, there are FFA’s. There is cancer, there is Multiple Sclerosis, there are mental health conditions.

    Vote Yes on May 25th and allow women, with the help of doctors and specialists, to choose.

    1. TheRealJane

      Yes. One thing that isn’t clear from this piece is why law should be governed by the preferences of an imaginary old man in the sky who doesn’t like abortion but refuses to anything about it, despite being omnipotent.

      1. Daisy Chainsaw

        Actually he is okay with abortion, and infanticide, and wiping out the population of the planet, bar a handful, and a few mass murders including the first born of Egypt, Pharoah, his chariots and his horsemen, and the absolute doozie of having his own kid brutally tortured and murdered for his own self gratification. They wrote a book.

        1. Janet, I ate my Avatar

          Yes it always tickles me that people would use a book full of violence to argue the moral high ground

      2. rotide

        The imaginary old man in the sky only had 10 laws actually, all the rest are the preferences of mankind claiming to speak through him. Someone with a Phd in fairy tales could probably expand on that

        1. Janet, I ate my Avatar

          Rotide are you actually quoting the ten commandments as a historical fact ? as the words of a god ?

          1. Janet, I ate my Avatar

            no need for name calling however quoting imaginary laws by an imaginary being
            that’s what I’d call idiotic

        2. Cian

          If you are going Biblical – then be precise. There are two sets of ten commandments. And each set had 14/15 commandments. #

          My favourite is from Exodus 34 “You shall not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.”

          1. rotide

            Yes and all of them are open to translation. “Murder” and “Kill” for example are two very diferent things. As is the possible meaning of slavery in the ‘steal’ commandment.

            This is only one of the reasons that people do Phd’s in theology. The degree in fairytales.

      3. Paul

        It’s not though, the logic underpinning the pro-life side holds up in the absence of a belief system.

        I think the pro-life side made a big mistake by not highlighting over and over again that this issue is separate to any inherited belief system.

        So the whole “but the old man in sky lets x happen too” thing is redundant.

    2. Paul

      I agree, seen as some of us find his area of study laughable we should all obviously disregard his arguments and logic.

      1. Daisy Chainsaw

        How about if his moral argument was based on other works of fiction like Harry Potter, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Gruffalo or the Famous Five?

          1. Janet, I ate my Avatar

            the bible is a work of fiction that plenty get both thier own and others knickers in a hell of a twist over

          1. Daisy Chainsaw

            At the bottom where it says the “Doctor” is a lecturer in theology and I have a sneaking suspicion he’s not an adherent of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

          2. mildred st. meadowlark

            With all respect for the point you’re making Daisy, I have a good friend who has a masters in theology and he is most assuredly an atheist.

            He’s often the most balanced of our group of friends in religious discussions funny enough.

          3. SOQ

            Panti Bliss is a Dr.? Nothing religious, although she did spend a lot of time on her knees.

      2. TheRealJane

        Yes. An argument based on a laughable premise can still give the results I want…

        1. rotide

          As if you wouldn’t be trumpeting an article written by someone with a degree in transgender-polymorphism if it agreed with your ideas

  12. Listrade

    There’s a bit in Bill Bryson’s a Short History of Nearly Everything where he’s talking about atoms. We’ve about 7 Octillion of them making us. Nearly every one of them has passed through their existence of [sagan] billions [/sagan] of years as several stars, probably millions of organisms and then for around 100 years they clump together and think they’re you before becoming cosmic dust all over again.

    We don’t really know what life is (we only have one planet to go off), let alone what consciousness is. I get the ethical discussion, we’ve been having it since we started having ethical discussions and we still haven’t resolved it and we probably never will. Well, they kind of did and had a rational answer as to mother’s health taking precedence, but we’ll ignore the millennia of that in favour of pretending a recent doctrine is as old as times itself.

    It’s a great discussion to have, like those discussions on who would you save: child or partner and all those other greater good moral arguments. It’s great because we’ll probably never have to make that decision, so we can seem really important and clever debating it with our “what ifs” and references to philosophical texts we’ve read and studied. It’s great cos we’re men who can quote other men.

    Moral worth: You’ve got cancer and it’s scary as shit because the treatment will make you really sick and you know that there’s a decent chance you’ll survive…but you just don’t know. You’ve two kids already who’re young and a partner. But you’ve been told you can’t have treatment because you’re pregnant. Only a few weeks gone, but it means putting off your cancer treatment for 9 months. Oh and that might kill you. Tough. An unprovable ethical debate means you just have to hope you’re lucky.

    Moral worth: You’re 14 and you were raped by your cousin. Now you find out that as well as that whole experience, you’re pregnant. You didn’t do anything, the bastard raped you. But now you’re told that you have to see the pregnancy through to term. Tough. An unprovable ethical debate means that you’re stuck with the pregnancy. A daily reminder of what happened. But don’t worry we have a health service that continually fails children in its care. Just give up school, have the baby, be traumatised and then hand it over so.

    The difference is we have actual examples of where there is no choice over moral worth, the women have no right to make that decision, it has been made for them. That’s the difference. A moral debate that has and probably never will be settled (outside of a Philip K Dick story) shouldn’t take precedence over actual health and trauma.

    It’s easy to pontificate over vague theoretical, what’s less easy is to sit face-to-face with women who have experienced this and lecture them about a debatable moral worth and why that is worth endangering them.

    1. wellness

      “But you’ve been told you can’t have treatment because you’re pregnant. Only a few weeks gone, but it means putting off your cancer treatment for 9 month”
      The above scenario never plays out in reality. The health of the mother is always given priority. Let us repeal the 8th but let us not conflate facts with reality .

      1. Listrade


        Michelle Harte, refused cancer treatment due to pregnancy. Sued the HSE and won.
        Professor Louise Kenny obstetrics states she has witnessed women refused cancer treatment.
        Sheila Hodgers

        1. wellness

          Hi Listrade,
          with regards to the Michelle Harte case, she was partaking in drug trials which under International guidelines require pregnant women not to take part in drug trials other than for the purpose of trialling a drug in pregnancy. You cannot equate this case with the simple scenario that you have painted , i.e. if you are pregant and have cancer, you will be refused treatment by your doctor. That is simply not true and this is not accepted common practice within Irish hospitals. Just to note that the Salvita Halappanavar case was one of medical negligence ,and yet there was no accountability . Why? I could be a cynic and suggest that it was much easier to cry “abortion” rather than address the issue of medical negligence and accountability. #repeal the eight . PS: I think 12 weeks is restrictive

          1. Listrade

            It’s a lottery and that is an issue. Professor Kenny has witnessed it. At the moment you can be refused (not same as will) and some women are (some are not).

            It is only where death is imminent that an abortion can be performed. That is what the Supreme Court ruled was allowed under the constitution.

            Even if it was just one woman refused treatment, it’s bad. But that it isn’t clear or that many chose to quietly go to the UK just so they can have the treatment without the risk of facing being told you can’t have treatment.

          2. wellness

            @ Listrade Agree with your points above . My issue was with your original statement.

      2. Daisy Chainsaw

        There are women who’ve written about their experiences for In Her Shoes on facebook and twitter who will tell you that’s exactly how it plays out in reality. You get pregnant, you get the drugs that have been maintaining your health and your life denied to you because you might hurt the foetus and you get no say in it because you’re in Ireland. One woman returned to Australia, rather than have her health and life held hostage. Unconstrained by the 8th in Australia, she signed a consent form (denied under the 8th in Ireland because pregnant women and girls have no rights to deny consent) saying she was aware of the possible outcomes. She kept taking the drug that kept her healthy and alive and gave birth to a healthy baby. Both could have been killed by the 8th amendment.

    2. Paul

      These are certainly terrible predicaments to be in Listerade and I hope I am never in them. Do you think they are representative of the sort of predicament those availing of abortion in general will find themselves in?

      1. Listrade

        I think “terrible predicaments” is a bit of an understatement. I know I will never be in them because I will never be pregnant. I will never face the chance of being refused medical treatment because of pregnancy. I can smoke as much as I want, drink, get obese, never exercise and get a medical condition related to my own actions despite all medical advice and I will still get treatment. A woman could get cancer through nothing other than a rogue cell acting the maggot and if she’s pregnant at the same time refused treatment.

        To me the question is one of the greater good. Under the proposed legislation, is the chance a woman may chose an abortion (before 12 weeks) based on circumstances I’ve no experience of that I may have a moral objection to even though I’ve absolutely no idea what her situation really is outweigh the need of those who cannot avail of an abortion due to a terrible predicament.

        And on that I say that no, repeal and the proposed legislation is the greater good.

        1. mildred st. meadowlark

          Top notch comment Listrade. Your eloquence and compassion are admirable.

  13. cupofteaanyone

    We cannot say when life begins exactly but it doesn’t start at conception. Maybe its at the first heart beat, or the moment the brain turns on, or when the baby starts to feel outside of its own being.
    I think the debate regarding abortion the first 12 weeks will come down to when each person believes life begins.

    Because if something is not alive it cannot be killed or have a moral worth.

    1. TheRealJane

      With women, we can be almost sure that they are already living even prior to conception of a foetus inside them. We can measure heartbeats and brain activity, women respond to external stimuli such as heat and cold, feel pain, are capable of describing their own lives in recognisable words, appear to have memories and the ability to plan for the future.

      Amazing, really.

  14. Niamh

    Theologians (and priests, and quite a few people on the internet) like to ‘debate’ in this abstract way because it makes them sound loftily above the fleshy, unpleasant, historically-specific context of real life. Quite often, as in this case, they literally live in a separate, rarefied sphere to the rest of us. They like to think they are above the emotionalism associated with women.

    Women don’t have abortions because they devalue the moral worth of a foetus. They have abortions because they live, work, and try to negotiate an economic/moral/emotional system that is historically stacked against them. Because they are broke, frightened, abused, alone, judged, raped, sick, ignored, and enduring huge struggles. Because they are fallible and vulnerable. Because we do not live in a theological, abstract, academic vacuum, or have these luxuries.

    Abortion is a complex issue and a very emotive one. This man’s opinion is only an opinion, and he has no lived experience of life as a woman, nor has he factored a single piece of historical context into his argument. By leaving out historical context, he is free to indulge his misogyny, and act like this makes him better than someone like me.

    If you’re reading this: there’s nothing admirable in identifying with a hypothetical individual (the foetus) to avoid identifying with those you have decided, to support your ego, to be less than individuals (the women you would have act as vessels). It’s easy and immature and typical of the pathological church that has been running this country since independence and is now in it’s death-throes.

    I suggest anyone wavering on this issue read the Facebook page ‘In Her Shoes’. It has a series of remarkably personal stories of abortion on it which give a clear, varied picture of what reality is like for us. Much more so than this constipated old misogynist with his pin-dancing angel shite.

    1. rotide

      [b]Abortion is a complex issue and a very emotive one[/b]
      He’s putting forth his argument in a completely non-emotional manner to avoid the emotive problems associated with discussing it.

      As much as I agree with some of your points, Calling him a Misogynist is like him calling you a screeching feminist.

      1. TheRealJane

        What would you describe someone who can discuss abortions without reference to women other than a misogynist?

        1. rotide

          I don’t know? Mistaken? Insensitive ? Compassionless?

          There is nothing in that post that comes close to showing that he hates women.

          1. TheRealJane

            Well, the fact that he doesn’t even think women merit a mention suggests a degree of contempt and disregard to me.

          2. Frill the 8th

            Well Rottie
            He could at least have given us a bitta’ve a mention
            Since we’re the only ones capable of pregnancy

            Even a bitta’ve a nod to note we actually exist in his lofty cosy uncomplicated environment of professional academia

        2. Paul

          Not if they believe it to be the taking of another’s life – much in the same way you’d hardly discuss murder in terms of the murderers wishes

          1. Listrade

            But you do discuss the murderer’s intent, that’s why there is a distinction between murder, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.

  15. Niamh

    To further contextualise this: there was a time, recently, when suicide was classed as a crime. This was justified on the basis that taking a life – even your own life – is morally wrong. It was made even more sinister because the law against suicide implied that you don’t own your life: God or the state does. So to kill yourself was to transgress against God and the state. This is a position which can be argued for and defended, and was for a long time, according to the airless and context-free logic outlined above.

    Now – does anyone here still feel we should class suicide as a crime? Of course no. We don’t anymore, because we have come to practice compassion. We understand that the lived experience of a human being is complex and often difficult and tragic, that human beings are fallible and vulnurable, and even though a person who takes their own life might leave grieving relatives who were dependant on them alone and even more vulnurable – children, for example – it would be heinous to judge them, because to judge them is in contravention of compassion. So we try to understand and we try to alleviate the distress of people who are suffering. None of which is to say we think suicide is a good thing. We can think outside of black-and-white dichotomies. We don’t have to remain in the middle ages.

    1. Jimmey_russell

      I hope some bigoted misogynist doesnt come along and say abortion, like suicide, it a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

  16. Rob_G

    While I don’t agree with the arguments put forth, fair play to Broadsheet for posting something from the No side. While it’s fine for a publication/website to take an editorial position, nice to see the other side able to put their views across.

  17. kellma

    The article is long and a bit rambly, but that is philosophy for you. Anyway, the key point is whether we think a woman has more worth than a fetus, from what I’m reading. I accept the point, but for me, it is an over-simplification. An abortion is a choice a woman makes which is the lesser of two evils. For the woman who has had to deal with the grief of terminating the pregnancy of a fetus that is not viable, she has never come to the conclusion that she is morally superior to the baby she tried to grow inside her. She is just trying to make the best decision for her and her family in dealing with the harsh reality that this fetus is not going to be the baby she has longed for. I am sure that the lady from the late late who had to have her baby’s ashes fed exed to her never felt morally superior for 1 second.

    1. Paul

      Actually the key point is whether or not we think a fetus has equal worth to a mother.

      1. kellma

        Is that not what I said? If someone thinks one thing has more value than another then ergo they are not equal. Or are you taking umbrage at the fact I said woman instead of mother, because not every woman in a mother?

  18. A person

    “None of the above begins to deny that the unborn child is a vulnerable “other” who is marginalised and dehumanised by unjust social, economic, and political structures, similar to how women, black people, and others have and continue to be marginalised.”
    Yet another conflation from the so called “yes side. Women, black and others all thrown into the debate.

  19. ahjayzis

    What a dry, inhumane, psuedo-intellectual way to look at the issue/world.

    Am I morally inferior to you when you are a kidney match to me, but refuse to give it to me?

    Should you not be compelled to give it to me?

    Let’s make graphs and do sums and work out whether I have a right to your bodily autonomy.

    1. Paul

      That’s called logic and it’s regretful in my opinion that you do not seem to like it.

    2. missred

      People are replying to those of us who object to the tone of it that we either are too stupid to understand philosophy, or along the lines of “it’s logic” as if that makes it fine to be purely cold and clinical and detached. This is an emotive topic and you can’t leave the personal lived experiences out of what the 8th has done to the women of this country – the impact and real lived experiences should always come before any theoretical waffle.

      1. rotide

        I’m curious. If it could be proven in cold, clinical and deteched terms that a 12 week foetus has a heartbeat, a nervous system and the capacity to feel pain (I know it doesn’t, bear with me), would it change your opinion or would the emotive experiences win out?

        1. mildred st. meadowlark

          They don’t feel pain – not at that stage, and certainly not in the capacity that we’d recognise.

          A foetus has no immune system until the last 4 weeks of pregnancy. It has no instinct to latch, suckle or feed until the last 5 weeks. Just because a foetus has a heartbeat and an immune system, it does not immediately follow that the foetus can live outside of its mother.

          Emotive arguments are one thing, but facts speak for themselves. And pregnancy is supposed to last 40 weeks for a reason. The foetus, or baby, is not ready to survive independently until that point.

          1. Paul

            Who cares whether or not an entity can live independently? There are lots of people being supported by forces external to their bodies who are not allowed terminate.

      2. Paul

        and the lived experiences of the pregnancies that went to terrm as a result of the 8th, do we leave them out or include them?

          1. Paul

            Cool, I thought whoever posted that was suggesting that we only include the lived experiences of the carriers.

    1. Listrade

      I eagerly await the No campaign debating any one from Doctors for Yes, Lawyers for Yes or Her Story instead of insisting on a circus debate with a minister.

      1. newsjustin

        Didn’t the No side directly debate Dr Peter Boylan and a GP whose name escapes me now, on the Late Late Show 2 weeks ago? Or does a head to head debate on the biggest TV show in the country not count?

        1. Listrade

          Yup. Dr Boylan directly addresses many of the falsehoods the No campaign and Wendy Grace (journalist) raised very calmly.

          Now if the legislation needs debating, why not the lawyers who can give actual legal interpretation?

          1. newsjustin

            Yep. Without a doubt. And the legislators designing the legislation. Like the Minister for Health.

      2. ReproBertie (SCU)

        Claire Byrne Live tonight is an extended Referendum Debate special from 9:35pm.
        For Yes: co-director of Together For Yes, Orla O’Connor, staunch Yes supporter and Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald and former Master of The Maternity Hospital, Holles Street and current chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Dr Peter Boylan.

        For No: Irish Catholic author and Iona Institute spokesperson Maria Steen, Fianna Fáil TD Mary Butler and obstetrician Dr John Monaghan

        I’m sure it’ll all be very logical and respectful and people will listen to each others’ point of view and debate them on the issues.

        1. Paul

          It’s cute the way one side perceives themselves as respectful and logical the other as the opposite.

    2. Daisy Chainsaw

      Some squealing prink like McGuirk, or the heavenly Ms Grace with nary a fire safety cert between them?

  20. Dee

    Dr Tom Finegan, of The Iona Institute, Mothers and Fathers Matter, and a former assistant to Ronan Mullen? THIS GUY?! Come on.

    Finegan and his ilk can parse their Goddy chatter as many ways as they like, but the problem remains: in Ireland, the religious and male are still trying to justify their refusal to extend compassion to the woman first, rather than to the foetus first. Punish the witch!

    Philosophy this ain’t. It’s half-baked 1930s Catholic doctrine ill-disguised as profound thought. His entire premise of moral equality and that the referendum hangs on a right to abortion is a nonsense.

    1. realPolithicks

      It’s half baked waffle wrapped in the kind of high minded moral philosophy that the CC constantly preaches, preaches but does not adhere to or live by. At the end of the day this referendum is about womens heath and a womans right to regulate what happens with her body. Abortion happens in Ireland every day of the year, so the only decision needed here is will women be treated like equal citizens with access to the healthcare they need or will they continue to be treated like pariahs who need to travel to other countries to access this care.

    2. Paul

      The religious and males are still trying to justify screwing women over? C’mon, you’re being disingenuous. The religious perhaps but males in general? That’s ridiculous.

  21. Anne

    “ that unborn children are emphatically not our fundamental equals in moral worth, that, in reality, they have no significant moral worth.”

    This is not equivalent. I definitely think that unborn children are not our fundamental equals in moral wealth but I don’t believe they have no significant moral worth. If you take me and you take a 12 week foetus – while I fully believe that it is a developing child I do not believe it has equal worth to me – which is why I am voting to remove the 8th. For example, my husband has no other family. If we were to have a miscarriage at 12 weeks, while tragic, fundamentally we can support each other and we can try for another child and another child after that and so on. However If I die, the 12 week old foetus who can’t survive without me anyway is not much comfort to my husband who now had no family and no potential for a family and I am not there anymore. So in a situation where it is me versus the developing child I 100% believe I am worth more and my health care should reflect this. If I get cancer and am pregnant I should be allowed to have an abortion so I can get better and then try again for a child and have the chance to live my already existing life – otherwise – see Shelia Hodgers tragic story.

    By the way you are also following the traditional pro life scaremongering tactics I have become so used to! We are not ‘deleting the unborn right to life entirely’ we are simply saying it should not have an equal right to life as it’s mother.

    1. Tom

      We are being asked to delete the unborn’s right to life entirely Anne. This was confirmed by the recent Supreme Court decision in M. v. Minister for Justice. If the 8th goes unborn children won’t have any kind of constitutional right to life, not even a limited or qualified right to life.

      1. Listrade

        1983. 35 years. That’s it. When we remove that what happens? Nothing. Because it would still need legislation to allow for abortion, just like we had the offences against the person act preventing abortion before the 1983 referendum to prevent it ever being legislated for.

      2. Anne

        How in reality will this deleting of the rights of the unborn work? Is it your belief no children will be born after the 8th is repealed? Would you say that Malta has deleted the rights of the unborn? I mean they have one of the strictest abortion regimes in the world but they don’t have a specific amendment in their constitution so they must have deleted the rights of the unborn by your logic? We are voting to remove the 8th because anyone with intelligence and compassion can see that it is not fit for purpose and hurts women and that women are not equal to a 12 week developing baby – they are more important and their healthcare should reflect this.

    2. Cian

      It’s actually scary. But the Constitution makes no reference to the any “right to life” for Men. Complete misandry.
      Unborn ✓
      Mothers ✓
      Men ✗
      Girls (unless she is a mother)✗
      Women that aren’t mothers ✗

        1. Cian

          Alas I cannot. It is a closely-guarded secret handed down from father-to-son for many generations.

  22. Andrew

    Oh right he’s a Doctor of Theology! Grand so.
    Give me a break. I resent the fact that our government are funding these types of courses in college. If you want to study theology you should have to fund it yourself.
    I wouldn’t give the time of day to someone who has bothered to get a Phd in the subject.
    I am not interested in what this ‘Doctor’ has to say on the subject of the referendum.
    His doctorate carries no more weight than the opinion of the man/woman on the street.
    However free speech and all that, fair play to broadsheet for publishing it.

    1. Paul

      Why not just try and view his points through the prism of logic and reason which he suggested instead of the qualifications he has which you disapprove of?

      1. Andrew

        see below Paul.
        by the way, I don’t disapprove of his qualifications, I just do not value them and I don’t think the state should be paying Doctors of Theology to lecture. If students had to pay for these courses, the Dr. would be out of a job as people would study something else worthwhile.
        I don’t like indulging this nonsense.

  23. Andrew

    “No contemporary moral philosopher disputes that the unborn being is a human being. This is a scientific question with a straightforward scientific answer. The unborn is an actual human being, not a potential human being: an unborn entity cannot grow as a member of its species unless it actually is a member of its species. And a biological entity either is or isn’t an actual member of a particular species.”
    An unborn foetus has not come in to ‘BEING’ The unborn demonstrably is NOT a human being.It is yet to ‘be’.
    I’m not a ‘moral philosopher’ but no person who is me disputes that either.
    Moral philosophers indeed. It’s a gilded existence you lead.

    1. Daisy Chainsaw

      Well I, for one, am shocked… SHOCKED that a godbotherer with sad facial hair was as against marriage equality as repealing the 8th!

      1. SOQ

        I’m not. He looks like he hasn’t bothered to shave or even wash let alone anything else.

  24. nellyb

    There is moral worth and there is moral worth. One emerges to become evident in the course of real life and other is constructed, sometimes with outright casuistry.
    Hypothetically, communism is a high moral worth system, yet in reality it is anything but.

    1. Paul

      I agree, and some people think it emerges immediately and some later. Neither are crazy perspectives imo.

  25. painkiller

    Great piece. Well done BS for publishing here.

    I love how people on the pro-choice side immediately go to reactive thinking. Above, many engaged in false equivalences rather than the substance of the piece. Listrade got all fractal and nebulus. Jimmey_russell and ahjaziz went to the swamp. Some of the others stuck to the hard abortion stories foothold – where they reign supreme as the morally right and just.

    Whatever it takes to avoid engaging with something that challenges your set of beliefs.

    It might just be the case that there is a valid point that says a society that flushes a feotus just because it is conditioned to is a society that has done away with morality and fairness. I’ve heard foetus being compared with cancer growths and the like a lot more in recent years – ideas like this increasingly underlie modern feminist culture.

    1. Nigel

      It’s funny, about the ‘hard abortion stories.’ You realise that it’s the 8th that directly gave us these stories, and these stories are why the 8th needs to go? We had a restrictive regime. What we also had was an amendment that made it impossible to apply any of the flexibility that would have allowed doctors to deal compassionately with the so-called hard cases under that regime. The hard cases aren’t exceptions. The hard cases are the reason why the 8th has to go, they’re the reason why we now have a chance to get rid of it. After that, hopefully we’ll have a more liberal abortion regime introduced via legislation, while people who dismissed the hard cases gifted to us by the 8th keep fulminating about how moral and fair they are.

      1. painkiller

        Well, hard abortion stories generally begin and end with rape/incest and foetal abnornality, and the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 has set out provisions to accommodate these situations. The problem may be that it has not been implemented very well but that is a separate issue.

        I notice the pro-choice side completely ignore this Act and I find myself wondering why….could it be inconvenient, in the same way the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 pretty much dealt with any inequality concerns in the last referendum? …because that Act was barely mentioned at the time.

          1. Listrade

            The chapter refers to the risk of life to the mother.

            The first part is where there is serious risk to her health.

            The second is in an emergency to save her life

            The last is risk of suicide.

            Nothing on the health of the foetus. Nothing on rape. Nothing on incest.

            Stop saying there is. Stop lying.

          2. painkiller

            Can’t reply to your comment below – any fetal abnormality that would pose risk the life of the mother would be covered in the Act.

            I appreciate Clare Daly’s push to have it explicitly stated as a provision in the act. given the horrendous scenario where a baby is born with little chance of survival but it’s fair to would assume it wasn’t included given the wide definition of fetal abnormality – for example, cleft palate is technically a fetal abnormality.

          3. Listrade

            C’mon. You said foetal abnormalities, rape and incest were covered by the Act. They aren’t as specific items. Are you just making it up now?

            Foetal abnormalities rarely affect the health of the mother, at least no more than any other pregnancy.

            Second, it isn’t hard to distinguish between a cleft palate and what Clare Daly proposed or what is in the proposed legislation. It’s called fatal foetal abnormality. It’s a specific term meaning there is no chance of survival for the foetus once born.

            Very easy to distinguish. And it’s completely disingenuous (at best) to try and make that claim along with statements of the PLDPA.

            You entered these comments lambasting those who had posted and blaming modern feminism for…well I’m not sure what, but you end up posting lies about an Act that you have posted numerous times before and been corrected on, but you insist on posting the same again.

            Then even the simplest search would show that FFA is a very distinct medical term and in no way includes a cleft palate.

            But of course, us prochoice insist on sob stories of real people who have real experiences rather than deliberately making up stuff so that you can pretend empathy towards women’s experiences.


            Debate by all means on real stuff. Leave the lies to McGuirk.

          4. painkiller

            When I look up “Fatal foetal abnormality’, the searches strongly relate to Ireland and I get a bunch of news stories suggesting the term emerged in 2016.

            No definition, medical or otherwise of FFA appears to exist – can you point me to one?

            I am not trying to lie or mislead and my apologies if that is how I have been coming across. I may be misinterpreting the 2013 Act, but my understanding from what I have read is that the life of the mother is protected under said Act, in cases where her the foetus poses a threat to her life, where her own medical condition makes the pregnancy detrimental to her life or where the pregnancy will impact her mental health to the point where her life is at risk.

            I agree that it is immoral to force a woman to go through with a pregnancy when there is little or no chance the baby will survive, but you must concede that the definition of FFA may not have been robust enough for reference in the Act?

          5. Listrade

            Ok, I’ll take you at your word and apologise for saying you are lying.

            To clear up the PLDPA. It is implemented (though many years later) in the spirit of the Supreme Court X case. The main debate on the constitution being that risk to the life of the mother has to be both serious and imminent.

            Easy enough for emergency terminations. Doctors want more clarity on the first section dealing with serious risk.

            Supreme Court said it had to include suicide, but a woman needs to convince 3 doctors she is at imminent risk of suicide. Emphasis on imminent.

            FFA is a collective term sometimes abnormality is impairment. What it means is defined by the proposed legislation:

            “condition affecting the foetus that is likely to lead to the death of the foetus either before birth or shortly after birth.”

            We have a list of recognised foetal abnormalities (on Wikipedia). Only the ones that would lead to death would be included as it’s pretty clear that it is restricted to fatal conditions to the foetus.

            Note what isn’t in this definition: disabilities or other impairments (physical or mental), genetic conditions. It is absolutely restricted to abnormalities and conditions that will mean the foetus dies in the womb or shortly after birth.

            We don’t have that in the PLDPA. We don’t have abortion allowed for rape or incest.

            So even if it is for FFA, we need to repeal. Even if it is just for rape and incest, we need to repeal.

            The proposed legislation is essentially the PLDPA plus FFA and the 12 weeks. I can understand people’s issue with the 12 weeks, but as has been mentioned before, this is the only means allowing for abortions in the case of rape and incest in the least traumatic way.

          6. mildred st. meadowlark

            Oh… So the term FFA just came into being last year? You sure about that?

            Despite the fact that Clare Daly attempted to introduce a bill for FFA through the Dail in 2015?

            Or the fact there’s this from 2013 from our very own government:
            Which you’d know about, seeing as you’ve referenced it several times. And it defines FFA as “a medical condition suffered by a foetus such that it is incompatible with human life.”

        1. Nigel

          They ‘ignore’ it because the 8th is the problem and it’s the 8th that is being repealed and therefore the focus of the campaign. This does not seem like a difficult concept to wrap your head around. The 8th is hypocritical, dangerous for women and doesn’t really accomplish its primary aim. Thirty five years later, chin-stroking about how the implementation ‘may’ be at fault isn’t going to cut it. Also, if those are the be-all and end-all of the hard cases associated with the 8th, you’re not looking very closely. Stories of women who have to take pregnancy tests before undergoing certain cancer treatments spring to mind.

          1. painkiller

            “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

            …with exceptions laid out the the 2013 Act – see my comment with Listrade.

            Can you source something to substantiate a claim that the HSE requires women to undergo a pregnancy test before commencing cancer treatment?

    2. Paul

      Some people on both sides have no pre-existing set of beliefs other than logic and reason. Of course if you admit to this then you can’t so easily discard their opinion but yeah……they exist.

  26. SOQ

    When was the last time you heard anyone use words like morality or moral? It reeks of judgement, of days when very large ostentatious churches were built on the backs of starving ‘sheep’.

    I sincerely wish these ‘moral’ people would sit with a doctor when (s)he has to tell someone that they will to be at death’s door before medical intervention or, pray with them when they fear that their careers may be over when they done the right thing and broke this stupid law.

    Enough of the moving statues and the dancing deities, the gay men preaching to the flock while doing the exact opposite. We are done with that, all of it.

    1. painkiller

      Our moral values have very little to do with our religious institutions and we shouldn’t just do away with them because we are done with the church. I guess you associate it with a different time.

      Part of the problem is that morals instill a collective sense of responsibility, common values, conventional wisdom etc . These are not always convenient for us or our view of the world as it aught to be. The modern left no longer weighs the morality aspects as they stand in the way of “progress”. There is an ongoing attempt to deconstruct what is common or shared among the populous and create different rules for different groups, and that road leads to nowhere fair, equal or shared. All this crap is giving rise to a (possibly dangerous later – but constructively objective for now) conservative counter-movement, a movement that has very little to do with religion and a lot more to do with standing up for post-Enlightenment moral values.

      1. SOQ

        A person who outright owns someone else’s home decides that irrespective of their ability to pay; the market value dictates that they must leave. Is this ‘moral’?

        1. painkiller

          False equivalence – no? Jeepers….

          Anyway, my main concern would be with where we are going culturally, in terms of how much value we place on the unborn – because to repeal the 8th is to repeal any rights. They shouldn’t necessarily be equal.

          I recommend watching Ali Wongs new stand-up on Netflix. She’s a 32 year old pregnant comedian who has spent the last 2 years in motherhood and she talks about motherhood and pregnancy in the most outrageous terms. And she does this because it is what people want to hear. This is where we have been headed culturally and it’s not pleasant.

        2. painkiller

          Hopefully this one! Might need another one soon tho!

          I guess we don’t share the same ideas of what constitutes social progress and that’s fine – the majority will rule, life will go on and nobody should fall out.

        3. painkiller

          Morality can change for the better or the worse.

          I do not think a decent society talks about a feotus as though it were a cancer growth, much less lauds a comedian that promotes that way of thinking. The same goes for parenthood. Why do we present these things as horrible? I am sure most couples go through something very special during pregnancy period. The man takes on more responsibilities in caring in advance of the birth of a newborn.

          Maybe I need a new planet after all!

          1. SOQ

            I asked you where ON the panet you were btw, no if. Just a geographical question, country is fine. We have all sorts of VPN these days.

            I understand the No position; it is primarily empathic; apart from clowns protesting outside hospitals and the likes of Inoa who just need a good laxative.

            A termination of a pregnancy is never made likely. Do some women regret it? Yes they probably do but on the coal face there are mothers who must say goodbye to their children because of an unknown entity who will never exist in our world.

            That is ‘morally’ and ethically wrong. I am being respectful to your opinion btw, but also just stating mine.

          2. Enn

            Never heard of that comedian. Suggest you look elsewhere for barometers of public morality. You think rape jokes are OK? Snuff porn? Bigger issues, IMO, than a woman having the audacity to joke darkly about motherhood.

            I’ve had an abortion. I didn’t do it because some comedian brainwashed me. I did it because the father abandoned me and I was unemployed.

            Grow up.

          3. Andrew

            You don’t need a new planet, you just need to place yourself in others shoes.
            You don’t seem completely au fait with things with regard this issue but your mind is made up anyway.
            That’s really hard to take. It’s obstinate and lacking in empathy.


    Theology is the cynical act of mental reservation beloved by Irish bishops and theologians. Decide your position based on religious beliefs then devise your pseudo philosphical proof of it’s truth.

    1. SOQ

      In fairness, apart from the lack of grooming and probably soap, he is a good looking fella.

  28. SOQ

    Mainly people who are far beyond reproductive age getting passionate about abortion on The Claire Byrne Show tonight.

    RTE being as balanced as ever so.

        1. Cian

          Audience was too partisan.
          Yes person says anything – loud applause.
          No person says something different – loud applause.
          Yes person says something else – loud applause.
          No person says another thing – loud applause.
          Hmm.. get rid of the clapping.

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